The connexion of Khassi with the otto languages of the Ion-Khmer family was
raco-nised so long ago as the year 1853, when Logan, In Ms paper on the General
Characters of the Buma-TMan, Gazette and Vrawrian Languages,1 spoke of it as « a
solitary record that the Mon-Kambojaa formation once extended much further to the
Norih-West than IG now does,1 This statement of opinion seems to have escaped the
notice of subsequent students of the language, for though a few scholars have once and
again referred to the connexion with Mon-Khmfir, the usually accepted account of Khassi
has been that it is an entirely isolated member of the Indo-Chinese languages.3 It was
not till 1889, forty years after Bobmson published the first Ehassi Grammar, that Pro-
fessor E. Kuhn, in his masterly Beitrdge zur Sprachenkmde Hinterindiens, first seriously
attacked the question, and showed conclusively the true affinity of this interesting
form of speech.
The home ol Khassi is the district of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the head- quarters
of which are Shillong, the seat of Government in Assam. Speakers of it are also found
in the adjoining districts of Sylhet and Cachar. The standard dialect is that spoken
round Cherrapunji in the South Khasi Bills. It will bo dealt with at length further on.
Besides this three other dialects have been reported for this Surrey, vig.9 (1) the Lyng-
ngam, or the language of the south-western corner of the hills, bordering on the Garo
Hills; (2) the Synteng or Pnar, or the language of the upper portions of the Jowai sub-
division, east of Shillong; and (3) the War, or dialect of the low Southern valleys, opening
out on to the plains of Sylhet,
Specimens of these three have, it is believed, never before been printed, and those
now given afford the only materials for exhibiting their differences from the standard and
peculiarities of grammatical structure. Synteng approaches the standard dialect much
more nearly than the others.
The following figures have been reported as the estimated number of speakers of
each dialect :
Where spoken, Number of speaker,.
Standard Khasi and Jantia Hills 113,190
Lyng-ngam Ditto l'5850
Synteng or Pjiar Ditto 5^740
War Ditto 7*000
Unspecified J Sylhet 3>200
t Cachar 313
- - 3,513
^ The3 interest attaching to the Khassi language is due chiefly to, the isolated position
which it occupies among the aboriginal tongues of India, and especially among the
Tibeto-Bunnan group which encloses it. This isolation, it may be added, is equally
3 Qaoted as an authority in the Introduction to the Family.
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